Following decades of political and economic marginalization of the African population in the United States, ,over one hundred African leaders and representatives from across the United States attended a White House briefing facilitated by Dr. Sylvester Okere, President of the United People for African Congress on behalf of the US African population. The historic briefing by members of President Obama’s policy team focused on US-Africa policy and included a subsequent strategic planning session at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Monday Feb. 22nd.
Despite being among the most educated groups in the US, African populations continue to experience racial discrimination and bureaucratic barriers that have prevented the full integration of Africans into American life and economy. “For far too long Africans have not been allowed to make their full contributions to this great nation,” said Dr. Sylvester Okere, President of the United People for African Congress. “We are very grateful that President Barack Obama has allowed us to make our case for full African integration in this country during Black History Month. Politics is the vehicle by which all Africans must participate in ensuring our communities develop in vibrant and economically-sustainable ways,” said Deputy Mayor of the City of Newark, Hon. Ugochukwu Nwaokoro. “The status quo in African marginalization in this country is costly and unacceptable. As Africans in America, we have so much to offer and we must continue to agitate and organize for full participation in this nation’s politics. America rises as we overcome.”
Temitope Omotayo, Co-Founder of Wazobia Global Network, Publisher of Wazobia Global Times who was one of the attendees of the policy briefing has this to say, “We can no longer fold our hands and think thinks will go our way, we must begin to take responsibility with a view to ensuring better lifestyle for our people, the briefing at the White House is a step in the right direction and I thank President Obama for creating this enabling environment.”
It was really a historic event as the briefing created an avenue by the top officials of the Obama administration to showcase the immigration reforms and various partnership programs embarked on by the administration to make life more comfortable for the immigrants and the minority population at large. Yohannes Abraham, Chief of Staff in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs in her welcome speech thank the African leaders for coming for the White House briefing and reiterated the commitment of Obama administration to partner with minority groups in their quest towards finding solutions to the challenges they are facing. Catherine Byne, the Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council itemized the impact made by US Africa Business Forum which has opened Africa market to the world , according to her, other contributions of Obama administration include, investment of 53 billion dollars for HIV and Ebola treatment in Africa. Melisa Rogers , Special Assistant to President Obama on Inter Faith and the; Executive Director of the Office of the Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships reiterated the desire of the Obama administration to partner with faith based community groups to address people’ challenges .
Ginnete Magada the Associate Director of Public Engagement in her own address at the briefing said efforts are being made by her agency to liaise with community based organizations with a view to helping the immigrants get the necessary benefits they need in the United State.
The policy briefing has gone a long way in improving the cordial relationship between the Obama administration and the Africans as well as other minority groups in United State of America.